The best days for deer hunting and other whitetail trivia

Posted on: October 4, 2017 | Bob Frye | Comments

Which are the best days for deer hunting when it comes to whitetails?

The first time wildlife biologist and author C.J. Winand of Maryland was asked that question, he thought someone was pulling his leg.

“It’s any day that ends with a Y, right?” he said.

It turns out that’s not necessarily true.

Winand said he began investigating the idea. He found an Auburn University study looking at deer movements during daylight hours in relation to hunting. It was revealing.

The study found that deer movements were pretty high on Fridays. Then, Winand said, come Saturday, the “weekend warriors” showed up.

“Deer movements went drastically down,” he added.

They stayed hidden for the next two days, still scared. It was only on Wednesday and Thursday that they got active again, he said.

That cycle repeated itself week after week.

“The take away message is, if you only have one day to hunt, I don’t know if I’d hunt the weekend,” Winand said.
“Hunt either Thursday or Friday. You’ll get more deer movements.”

Here is some other deer hunting trivia to consider:

** Every deer hunter knows to hunt the oaks, right? They produce the acorns deer and other wildlife thrive on.

But there are times when it’s better to hunt one species than another.

White oaks – which are sweeter anyway, and called the “ice cream tree” by some – drop acorns that are tastier, ie. less bitter, than those produced by red oaks. They also drop them sooner.

So if you have the option, hunt white oaks earlier in the fall and red oaks later.

And if you want to remember how to tell them apart, white oaks have leaves with rounded edges, red oaks leaves with pointed edges.

** How many deer do you have on your land and how many do you want?

That’s a question to ask when determining which does to shoot.

Research has shown that a 2-year-old doe – a new mother – will give birth to 1.5 fawns, on average. She’ll only successfully raise one, however.

Older does, those age 6 and up, will give birth to two fawns on average and raise both successfully.

So if you have the opportunity to shoot an older versus a younger doe, take the younger one. You’ll get better recruitment and better sustain the herd with more mature does on the landscape.

“They’re better mommas,” said Winand. “And they’re harder to kill anyhow.”

** Letting a buck live for a few years at least gives him a better chance to grow big antlers.

Sounds obvious, right? But how dramatic will be the change in antler size?

Plenty.

According to research, a 1.5-year-old buck will, at most, only exhibit 28 percent of his antler potential. Let him get to 2.5, though, and he’ll show off 60 percent of what he could be.

That goes to 80 percent by age 3 and 90 percent by age 4.

By the time a buck reaches 5.5 years old, he’s likely at 99 percent of his potential. He’ll stay there a bit before going back down as he ages.

So if you want bigger bucks, let them walk, but not forever.

Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

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Bob Frye is a storyteller with a passion for all things outdoors. He hunts, he fishes, he hikes, he camps, he paddles, backpacks and snowshoes depending on the season. If he’s not an expert at anything, it’s because he’s passionate to try a little bit of everything.